Italferr wins Saudi 'Landbridge' design contract
Italian engineer to realise 18-hour west-to-east freight transit dream
Italferr, the engineering subsidiary of Italian State Railways (FS), has been awarded a $37m contract by the Saudi Railways Company (SAR) to design the Landbridge, Saudi Arabia's first west-to-east port-to-port rail link between the Red Sea and the Gulf.
The $7bn mega-project was approved by Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers in October 2011, and involves the construction of one 950km line between Riyadh and Jeddah, and a second 115km line between Dammam and Jubail, as well as the expansion of the existing Riyadh to Dammam railway.
The 14-month contract covers both the preliminary and detailed design phases, and includes track and structures, stations, freight facilities, signalling (ETCS Level 2) and telecommunications.
The contract was signed by the PIF, the Ministry of Finance and SAR, and Italferr will be assisted by Arabian Consulting Engineering Centre (ACEC), a Saudi engineering company established in 1979.
Once completed, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) project will be the nation’s first consolidated link for freight between the Red Sea and the Gulf, dramatically speeding transit between the two coasts.
Transit times for freight between Jeddah and Dammam will be reduced to 18 hours, compared with the current sea voyage of 5-7 days, with capacity for eight million tonnes of freight a year.
Passenger trains will operate at up to 220km an hour between Jeddah – Riyadh for a journey time of around six hours, compared with a bus journey between the two cities currently lasting 10-12 hours.
Jabara Al-Seraisry, transport minister, said: “Along with the North-South Railway and the Haramain Railway, the project will have a big impact on the social and economic development of the country.”
As part of environmental impact studies for the work, the contract encompasses a detailed study on noise mitigation and the management of the impact of the harsh desert environment on the railway.
The award of the project to an Italian company also closely follows the award of the main contract to build the $6bn line 3 of the Riyadh Metro to a consortium led by Impregilo, in conjunction with Ansaldo, another Italian rail firm, Bombardier, Larsen & Toubro and the local Saudi company Nesma.